One of the Shaw Brothers Studios most well-known films, King Boxer was an international success that helped instigate the kung fu craze of the '70s. It opens with an old master (Wen Chung Ku) attacked in an alley.
He fends off the fighters, but decides he isn't strong enough to travel to a martial arts school to learn the Iron Fist (also called Iron Palm) fighting technique. He sends his pupil and son-in-law Chao Chi-Hao (Lo Lieh) instead. When Chao arrives at the school, he finds the students and teachers in preparation for the All China Tournament.
They fear that if their archrivals win the competition they will rule with cruelty. Chao, the clumsy rookie, must start at the lowest rung of the school's ladder and work his way up.
Meanwhile Ming Dung Shun (Tin Fung), master of the bad school has hired Chen Lang (Gam Hei Chu), a tough mercenary, and two Japanese ronins to kill or maim the good school's best fighters. In one of these fights Chao's hands are broken and it seems as if he will not be able to fight again.
Chao redoubles his efforts to overcome his injury and learn the Iron Fist technique. Mastery of the technique is indicated by a whooo-hee whooo-hee sound effect and a quick zoom to the fighter's glowing hands.
Chao's old master is also attacked and killed by these fighters and his daughter/Chao's girlfriend Yin Yin (Ping Wang) flees to tell him the bad news. Chao fights his way to the All China Tournament, and prepares to take on Ming Dung Shun and his cohorts.
In the United State, the film is more commonly known as Five Fingers of Death, the more exploitative title given to it by Warner Brothers.